17 And it came to pass on a certain day, as he was teaching, that there were Pharisees and doctors of the law sitting by, which were come out of every town of Galilee, and Judaea, and Jerusalem: and the power of the Lord was present to heal them. 18 And, behold, men brought in a bed a man which was taken with a palsy: and they sought means to bring him in, and to lay him before him. 19 And when they could not find by what way they might bring him in because of the multitude, they went upon the housetop, and let him down through the tiling with his couch into the midst before Jesus. 20 And when he saw their faith, he said unto him, Man, thy sins are forgiven thee. 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to reason, saying, Who is this which speaketh blasphemies? Who can forgive sins, but God alone? 22 But when Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answering said unto them, What reason ye in your hearts? 23 Whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Rise up and walk? 24 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins, (he said unto the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy couch, and go into thine house. 25 And immediately he rose up before them, and took up that whereon he lay, and departed to his own house, glorifying God. 26 And they were all amazed, and they glorified God, and were filled with fear, saying, We have seen strange things to day.
"We have seen strange things today!", That they said with great fear. A palsied man brought in on a stretcher and leaving on his own two feet. Strange things indeed!
Yes, indeed, such an event will seem strange for we are not used to seeing the lame walk and the blind seeing all of a sudden. Given today's climate of unbelief and the religious charlatans who still roam the landscape with their cruel claims to be able to heal you for a price, it would be not so much a strange thing as a thing that would make men even more cynical. But then, this was the Son of God, the Creator of all men, and He could and did speak healing. Obviously this palsied fellow was well known, too well known for any to even dream of suggesting that the whole thing was, as it is called these days, "a set up". That is exactly why they were also frightened!
Now what are we to make of this account. Can Jesus heal? Yes -- of course Jesus can heal and does heal. But if that is the thing we believe is being asked we are really wrong. There can be no question that God can and has healed, He does so every day both in hospitals and miraculously as well. Then again God is under no standing order to heal, He may also say to us: "No, I shall not heal you this day, in your weakness I shall show forth my strength!"
What then is the real question? This pitiable man was bed-fast. That is why he was carried to the Master while he was still upon his bed. There is this most important thing we must remember, the sick man had to take the first step even though he was incapable of walking. His first step was his "Take me to the Lord!" That is the first step for all of us and we are usually helpless little infants when it is done for us. Loving parents determine that this is something that will be most needed by their children, our Lord's compassionate touch in baptism. So in their little beds and blanketed up against the chill of the church building they are brought to Jesus.
But there is a further thing that we must think upon as well. This sick man's first step, was his decision to get rid of this invalid's bed if at all possible. As a grown up man he wanted now to see Jesus and ask this mercy of Him. We may well be taken to the Lord as infants but it is for us to ask Jesus into our hearts when we grow up. Getting out of sin and into salvation is something that we must concern ourselves with and the sooner the better. Have I now asked the Lord to fulfill in me all that was promised on my behalf by my parents so long ago. If I haven't done so then I must surely do so here and now upon my knees. He will surely hear me. It doesn't matter how I may or may not feel, He has promised to do it and I shall by an act of my God-given will accept it as done and live accordingly. I am a human and humans are often in their sins much as invalids are in their beds, now I am going to arise from this all and fly to Jesus. He will not fail me!
Where once this poor man was frozen by his sickness he has now become "Frozen into determination" by the grace of God and none shall turn him back. He has set his face like flint toward the Savior's goodness and he will not take no for an answer since this Savior has said "Come unto Me all ye that are burdened and heavy laden, I will give you peace." ..
And note that he was aided by friends. I don't imagine the owner of the house appreciated having its roof chopped through so that the man could be lowered to Jesus but nevertheless these were real friends. That is precisely what the church is supposed to be and to do, we are accompanied by friends who've been through much of it and they are anxious to help us through it as well. Any church that hasn't that much spirit to it is a sad affair I think. Oh it is true what Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "The only way to have a friend is to be a friend!" Well, "What a Friend we have in Jesus" and if we are thus befriended we must be friends especially to those who cannot get up on their own, who need a roof or two chopped through, who need somebody to kneel there for the rest of their lives if that is called for so that this soul can never say to God, "No one cared for my soul!"
In what then are we paralyzed this day? Will we own up to it, we should -- it is silly to keep a stiff upper lip when our hearts are about to cave in with grief. Haven't you heard yet, Jesus really does save. And so for ourselves or for our friends, and oh may we have many friends, we must go seek His mercy out and God loves it when we will not take No for an answer, when we love Him so that we shall not give Him peace until He bless us ... sort of like Jacob who wrestled with a mighty angel all night until that angel would bless him by giving his name. Seek the Lord while He may be found.
Let this sober us up as well for we are often inebriated with the careless spirit of today's religious world. Only when his friends placed him before Jesus' feet did he find the blessed cure for his illness. A long time ago Cain angrily asked God, "What, am I my brother's keeper?" Yes, my friends, that is precisely what we are ... that is precisely why God incarnated and was crucified for our sins. Greater love hath no man than this, that He would lay down His life for His friends. If we shall go on only caring about ourselves and never giving the other fellow, the other gal a thought as to their spiritual welfare then we have acted sadly I think. Only God can give such compassion for other men's souls, and there is no easy way to it -- we must pray much for such a compassion to be within our lives every day until our last. Amen.
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